Friday, November 27, 2009

"Frosted" windows

I have a fairly large wreath on our front door all year round, which I redecorate with the seasons and holidays. When I hung the wreath I made last night, I realized that the window in our door was quite exposed, due to the new wreath being smaller. So, as if stringing 118 Christmas ornaments onto a coat hanger wasn't enough craftiness for one night, I "frosted" the window using clear Contact paper.


It was challenging to take a picture of the window and this was the best I could get.

I have seen this idea on someone's blog but I can not find the link. The woman created some lovely designs for her windows and even used this method on her daughter's bedroom window.

This is a very simple project. About the Contact paper, they do make ones that are labelled "frosted" but they have a design on them. The clear paper is concealing enough when you put it on the glass. I bought mine at Canadian Tire for around $4.

I wanted to leave some clear spaces in the design because we do actually need to see out the window to see who is at the door.All I did was measure the width of the window, less half an inch (to get the empty space at the sides), and then I cut bands of the Contact paper in different widths. I cleaned the window and stuck the paper on, and that was it. It took me about 15 minutes.

You could do any kind of design and could use this to decorate a mirror as well. Big circles in different sizes on a window would be cool, as would any shape. It would also be interesting to cut a piece of paper the full size of the window, and cut little shapes into it. I have a vague idea for decorating our bathroom window this way.

Christmas wreath

I borrowed Eddie Ross' idea for a Christmas wreath: http://www.eddieross.com/eddie_ross/2008/12/no-wire-hangers-well-maybe-just-one.html

And made this:


I did a few things differently:

1. I purchased all the ornaments because I wanted them to be the same size and colour. Now that I am finished the project I can see that I might like it more if the ornaments were different sizes.

2. My ornaments are actually plastic. I thought this would be better, given that the wreath is hanging on the front door.

3. I used very small ornaments and there are 118 of them on this wreath. It is smaller than I would have liked, and can now see the value in using bigger ornaments.

2. I had to cut the coat hanger near the top, below the hook. The problem was that I could not get the metal straightened enough for the hook part of the ornament to slip past.

4. Due to cutting off the hook, I made two hooks on either end of the wire and hooked them together to keep the wreath closed.

Tips:

  • Try to shape your circle as much as possible before putting on the ornaments. I did not do this, and you can see that one side is misshaped.
  • When you first start putting the ornaments on it looks very strange. Just keep going, keep the hook part of the ornaments as close together as possible on the wire (mine are actually all touching) and they will shape themselves. It's pretty fancy!
Anyway, I'm happy with it overall and it's hanging on our front door now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quick Chick Pea Stir Fry

This takes about 15 minutes and it's delicious. I like to make it while I'm getting ready for work, so that I have a great lunch. You could this vegan by leaving out the feta, or you could always throw in a handful of cubed tofu to give it another hit of protein along with the chick peas. This also makes a nice side dish for any meat or fish.

1 large potato
1 can chick peas
1/2 package frozen spinach
1 small onion
1 small clove garlic
small handful of crumbled feta cheese
your choice of dried herbs
olive oil

1. Wash and pierce the potato with a fork a few times. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let cool, then dice into small pieces.
2. Microwave the spinach on high for 1 minute.
3. Chop the onion and garlic.
4. Heat a cast iron skillet, put everything in the skillet and saute until the onion is cooked through and the potatoes are slightly crisp.
5. Sprinkle with feta and serve. Also packs and reheats nicely for later use.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Recipe - Jerked Up Brisket

This is one of my attempts to cook something that is familiar and comforting to both my husband and myself. You'll need to be around the house for at least 4 hours for this one, so it's something I do on a Sunday usually.

Why I know about cooking Jewish-style brisket

Both my parents' families have been living in the Toronto area for at least 4 generations. My father was a butcher, and so was my grandfather. My grandfather died when I was 2 years old, so I didn't know him. I'm told he was very interested in what other cultures ate, that he loved to cook, and that he was a fantastic cook. My mom tells me that my grandfather cooked massive spreads of food every Sunday, and there was a standing invitation to family and friends to eat at their house. As I understand it, at the time my dad was growing up in Toronto, his neighbours were Jewish and Italian, and my grandfather's interest in their cooking influenced his own. Jewish and Italian foods are two of my dad's favourites, and this is why I am familiar with the cooking of both these cultures.

When I first started living with my husband, I spent some time with his mom talking about cooking and she gave me some Jamaican recipes. These days she gives me the magazine Jamaican Eats whenever there is a new issue. Over time, I've developed a pretty good understanding of Jamaican cooking, and it has influenced everything I cook.

OK! Let's get going here!

Jerked Up Brisket

You will need:

1 6lb flat cut brisket
3 T of Walker's Woods Jerk Seasoning mixed with 2 T olive oil
10 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 large or 2 small onions, coarsely chopped
2 T butter
2 cups of broth*
seasoning salt and pepper

Special equipment: a large roasting pan with a lid, or if you have no lid, tin foil will do it. You will also need a large skillet, and I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet.

THE NIGHT BEFORE

Soak the roast in cold water with a few dashes of vinegar in the fridge for as long as you please. Soaking meat before cooking it is something I've picked up from my Jamaican family. My own family washes meat well, but I have to say I prefer soaking meat, and I can tell when I am eating meat that has not been soaked. Afterward, rinse and dry the brisket. Rub the surface with one clove of garlic, then slather it with jerk seasoning. Put the meat in a pan, cover it with foil, and stash it in the fridge over night.

COOKING DAY
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the butter in the skillet and get the skillet super hot.
  3. Sear the brisket until well-browned on all sides. It might get smokey in the house, so open a window first.
  4. Rest the brisket on a plate.
  5. Add the onions to the pan and saute until brown.
  6. Add 1 cup of broth to the pan and scrape as much browning off the skillet as possible.
  7. Place the onions and garlic on the bottom of the roasting pan and place the brisket on top.
  8. Add the cup of broth from the pan plus the remaining cup to the roasting pan.
  9. Cover the pan and cook for 2 hours. Return to the pan, flip the meat and cook for another 2 hours.
During the last half hour or so, you can throw in potatoes and carrots or whatever. I also cook a pot of rice for my husband during this time.

The meat should be thinly sliced before serving. The gravy is fine as is for serving with vegetables and rice, or you can thicken it with 1 tablespoon of flour mixed in 1 cup of water. Add this to the pan and stir.

*A few words on broth: you can make your own broth easily enough, or you can use a carton of store-bought broth or you can use boullion cubes and boiling water to make your own. I like the last option, and I use three different flavours of cubes to get lots of flavour. Mushroom, onion and miso are my favourites for this dish.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freaky Friday - One Liners

Every Friday, I'm going to post a round-up of all the odd things that people say and do in my vicinity that week.
  1. Guy on the street talking to his buddy: "I can only drop my pants for so many women."
  2. Guy in the park, to me: "I say no to drugs, but they don't listen."
  3. Guy on Twitter: "OMG! Kayne West just burst into our kitchen and blew out the candles on my daughter's cake while we were singing happy birthday to her!"
  4. Woman on streetcar, to no one in particular: "Those people are high! On drugs!"
  5. Woman to her toddler: "You're short, and your mother dresses you funny."
  6. Little kid, to my dog: "Quack! Quack!"
"That's all folks!", said the pig in the top hat. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"I've got a right to be hostile, man."

This article just irritated the crap out of me.

Read point 10. I get it, but I resent it.

It suggests that women DO NOT have to walk around on tip-toe all day at work and that we might be tired of exercising self-control by the time we get home. And it's certainly not acceptable for women to "go off" on men.

To me, this article does little more than perpetuate male entitlement to anger and aggression.